Brooklyn Favorites

Fun Places

Miniature Brooklyn Bridge, Cobble Hill

On a morning walk through Cobble Hill a few weeks ago, my friend Elizabeth and I stumbled upon this miniature Brooklyn Bridge on Clinton Street. It was just set into the sidewalk around the base of a tree, no sign, no fanfare. I love that someone took the time to craft this little bridge out of wood, wire, and nails, a little tribute to the borough for public enjoyment.

I've been searching but can't find any info behind the origin of this sidewalk bridge. But maybe certain things are best left with a little mystery. At the very least, it reaffirms my belief that sometimes wonderful surprises come from slowing down and noticing the small things that your feet.

Parks

Cherry Blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

If you haven't been to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden during cherry blossom season, go soon!

In Japan, hanami is the tradition of viewing cherry blossoms (sakura) in the spring. With more than 200 cherry trees, the first of which were planted after World War I, the BBG has one of the largest collections of these gorgeous trees outside Japan. (And hey, you won't need to hustle down to Washington D.C. with much of the Northeast and battle it out for hotel rooms!)

Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, Parks

Squibb Park Bridge in Photos

If you've ever wanted to walk across a bouncy bridge and rest assure it's perfectly safe, here's your chance.

Squibb Park Bridge recently opened as a much-needed (and scenic!) pedestrian link between the Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Bridge Park. Whereas before you had walk a steep hill down Columbia Heights,. then dodge traffic across the BQE before finally reaching the park, now you can access it via a 400-foot long zig zagging bridge, just a few steps from the northern end of Brooklyn Heights Promenade

Boerum Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, Restaurants and Cafes

Ganso

The first summer I moved back to Brooklyn from San Francisco back in 2010, ramen joints had taken the city by storm. In the three years that I was gone, places like IppudoHide-ChanToto Ramen, and Rai Rai Ken (just to name a few) had sprouted around town. Having recently traveled to Tokyo, I was ecstatic that I wouldn't be missing those very tasty noodles. The only problem? The restaurants were all in Manhattan and required a subway trek (and in the case of Ippudo, a two-hour wait.)

So I'm pretty thrilled with the new ramen shops popping up around Brooklyn these days. Dassara on Smith Street is a go-to-spot. Chuko and Ramen Yebisu are on the next-up list. And Ganso in Downtown Brooklyn has just become a new favorite. Even before the restaurant opened, it had already received a good amount of press. (One of the owners, Harris Salat, is a cookbook author and blogger at The Japanese Food Report.) And after, well, plentyofdining critics plus a whole bunch of friends on Instagram were thrilled that it lived up to the hype. 

Park Slope, Restaurants and Cafes

Brunch at Rose Water

There are so many great brunch places in Brooklyn, but my absolute favorite, the one I revisit again and again and recommend to anyone visiting, is Rose Water.

I've never had even a mediocre meal here. When I first started coming here, I was obsessed with the baked polenta with goat cheese and couldn't think about ordering anything else. Then there was the challah French toast phase. And lately I've been loving the smoked tuna fishcake, which comes with poached eggs, mesclun salad, and a slice of cranberry bread.

Italian, Park Slope, Restaurants and Cafes

Lunch at Al di La

I lived in Park Slope for 2 years before I finally tried Al di La. My old apartment was a mere 3 blocks away, and I had heard such great things about it, yet I had always been intimidated by the long lines of people waiting outside for dinner. (Like many restaurants here, they don't take reservations.) My friend Elizabeth said the trick was to get there at 5:30pm and wait for the first seating; otherwise, be prepared to stand outside for a while.

So when I finally tried it, it was for lunch on my 30th birthday last year, a lovely surprise from my friend Barb. The restaurant was calm and relaxing, busy but not overly so. I loved it before we even started eating.

Park Slope, Restaurants and Cafes

Burger at Thistle Hill Tavern

thistle-hill-burger

My friends Barb and Max, who moved to New York a few years ago from Los Angeles, often lament that back in L.A. it was hard to find places to dine outside. For a city with almost perfect weather year round, it has surprisingly few restaurants or bars with outdoor seating. So they were happy to find, upon moving here, that New Yorkers are pretty hardcore when it comes to dining al fresco, even in the midst of garbage cans, bus fumes, sirens, and the occasional crazy person.

Fortunately, Park Slope offers much less of a sensory overload than almost anywhere in Manhattan. I walk by Thistle Hill Tavern at least a few times a week and noticed that since Saturday the outdoor tables have been filled, even when it was in the low 50s.

So yesterday, on the last day of winter, which felt like the first day of summer, we took the opportunity to have dinner outside. (In March!) And what better food to have while celebrating the start of outdoor eating season than a nice juicy grassfed burger?  The big fat salt and pepper fries don't hurt either, or the happy hour price of $15 for a beer and a burger.

P.S. Thistle Hill also has a beautiful newly renovated bar that seats about 3 times more people than before. After closing down for maybe 3 days to renovate. Everything in New York should get built this quickly.

Thistle Hill Tavern
441 7th Ave. (at 15th St.)
Brooklyn, NY
Neighborhood: Park Slope
(347) 599-1262
Map